What is a free radical?
Your skin cells are made of molecules and these molecules contain pairs of electrons. The pairing of electrons keeps the molecules stable and the skin cell healthy. However, molecules can lose an electron (splitting up the pair) and when this happens, the molecule becomes unstable and the cell becomes damaged.
This unstable molecule is what we call a free radical.
In its quest to find an electron and reform the pair, a free radical steals electrons from another molecule in a healthy skin cell.
This kicks off a chain reaction of free radicals stealing electrons from healthy cells, which then become free radicals themselves, stealing yet more electrons from other healthy cells. This process can wreak on your skin, weakening cells and tissues, triggering inflammation and prematurely aging not just your skin, but your entire body.
Free radicals are created during normal metabolic processes and our body naturally produces antioxidants to neutralize the damage - more on that shortly.
However excess free radicals can be caused by overexposure to the sun, pollution, smoking, excessive exercise, alcohol, and poor diet.
What is oxidative stress?
Oxidative stress occurs when the amount of free radicals in the body is too great to be neutralized by antioxidants. Essentially, there’s an imbalance between the two.
To see oxidative stress in action, slice an avocado in half and leave it uncovered, exposed to the air. Soon enough that creamy, green flesh will turn a murky brown.
Our skin goes through a similar transformation - although much more slowly - and the result of oxidative stress is uneven skin tone and texture and the breaking down of the essential proteins that support the skin, leading to fine lines, wrinkles and sagging.
How do antioxidants combat free radicals and oxidative stress?
Antioxidants are naturally occurring vitamins and minerals (such as beta-carotene or vitamin C) which inhibit the oxidation process by working to neutralize the damaging effect of free radicals.
Antioxidants play a preventive role by stepping in and disrupting the process triggered by free radicals.
They do this by giving an electron to the free radical which stops it from taking an electron from a healthy cell. This halts the chain reaction of free radical production that leads to oxidative stress and damaged skin cells.
As mentioned earlier, our bodies naturally produce antioxidants, but we can - and should - boost our levels of antioxidants through diet and topical application. Antioxidants work hard to protect the skin’s tissue, so it’s crucial to constantly be replenishing the supply of them.
Benefits of antioxidants for skin
While all antioxidants fundamentally work to neutralize free radicals, each has its own benefits to correct specific skin issues too. Essentially, there’s no single ‘miracle’ antioxidant to target all skin challenges. It’s best to take a holistic approach and combine a variety of antioxidants in your skincare and diet to boost the results for your skin. The benefits antioxidants provide for the skin include -
Protection against UV damage
The major cause of extrinsic photoaging and skin cancer are UV rays. Daily sunscreen is essential for healthy skin and antioxidants when used with sunscreen, have been shown to enhance the SPF and further decrease UV-induced damage compared with sunscreen alone.
Some antioxidants play a defensive role in neutralizing the effect of UV rays, increasing the effectiveness of your sunscreen and helping repair any damage caused.
Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen and complement it with a daily serum rich in antioxidants for your skin’s best defense against harmful UV rays.
Signs of sun damage include-Age spots, melasma, uneven pigmentation, moles, wrinkles, fine lines, and spider veins.
Slow signs of aging caused by environmental damage
Antioxidants can help protect against the damage caused by external and lifestyle factors, otherwise known as extrinsic aging.
Urban pollution, smoking, exposure to sun and toxins all trigger excessive free radical production, causing the skin to age at an accelerated rate by damaging collagen, compromising the skin barrier and causing inflammation.
Signs of environmental damage include-Breakouts, fine lines and wrinkles, irritation, rashes, dull skin, and eczema.
Calm inflammation and help skin heal itself
Free radical damage can trigger inflammation and when the skin is inflamed, its natural rejuvenation process slows down. Antioxidants can help calm inflammation and allow the skin to heal and repair itself.
Signs of inflammation include-dryness, rashes, redness, itching, burning, and discoloration of the skin. Additionally, chronic skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis may also be the result of inflammation.
Replenish Antioxidant Reserves
Developing an all-inclusive harmonized product is certainly no easy feat. It took many years of continuous research and development in our lab to produce a universal product that would meet the demands of skin under daily environmental assault.
Symmetry Fluid is a nutrient-rich concentrate designed to establish a harmonious, breathable barrier between skin and daily exposure to urban pollution. Formulated with a comprehensive blend of vitamin C & E, squalene, ginkgo biloba and 18 of the world's most antioxidant-rich skin-strengthening botanicals, resulting in a more stable and radiant complexion.
Here are just a few antioxidants we will highlight for their respective skin benefits.
Astaxanthin: A potent antioxidant classified as a carotenoid, astaxanthin has incredible UV-blocking properties, promotes moisture retention, boosts elasticity and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin C: Aids skin’s natural regeneration process, reduces inflammation, promotes a brighter smoother skin tone, and corrects UV damage.
Vitamin E: Promotes firmer skin tone, targets hyperpigmentation, recycles vitamin C and boosts UV protection.
Red raspberry seed oil: Contains phytosterols to help to repair skin damaged by environmental factors and contains very high levels of tocopherols (Vitamin E) and carotenoids (Vitamin A).
White tea: The antioxidant catechins found in white tea can help slow both the internal and external aging of the skin. White tea works to soothe inflammation and protect against the damage of UV exposure.
When the right antioxidants are used in conjunction with each other will deliver multiple benefits and long-term results for your skin.